Late last week, I listened to a fascinating piece on Science Friday by Michael Pollan about cooking and fermentation, exploring how we feed our body. What was interesting about it was that it was talking about feeding our entire body — not just the human part we normally think of, but designing our diet to feed the beneficial microbes in our gut. These make up to 5 pounds of our overall weight, and often all the processed foods we eat are designed for human nutrition, not the nutrition of our larger biome. For example, easily digested sugars feed the humans, but fiber feeds the bugs in the lower intestine.
What got me thinking about this were two articles I saw recently. The first dealt with our feet, and the wide variety of fungi living thereupon. It appears that microbial life doesn’t like the environment of the feet… but fungi do. The goal is to encourage the good fungi, and discourage the bad fungi. This is similar to what we do with the microbes. We want to encourage the good ones — by eating fiber, eating yogurt, eating other fermented foods that help repopulate the good stuff in our guts — while creating an environment hostile to the bad ones. The important thing is not to be germ-free — in fact, our overemphasis on germs is one thing that has led to the large number of immune system problems today.
The other article that caught my eye had to do with the introduction of Soylent. The substance is intended to provide all the nutrients and calories a human body needs—in other words, to replace food. Mix the powder with water and drink. The creator buys most of the 32 components of Soylent in bulk from chemical supply companies, synthesized in forms the body can absorb. (He detailed the formula on his blog.) Some of the chemicals are derived from real foods (olive oil supplies the fat), but many aren’t. For example, the calcium comes from limestone. My question: What does the biome think of it.
P.S.: A couple more food items. It appears that hipsters are at it again. This time, they are creating a rise in the price of beer [ETA: Then again, maybe not.] However, perhaps not in New Jersey, where bar owners are accused of putting cheap liquor in premium liquor bottles. This was especially evident at TGI Fridays. Of course, this begs the question: what it is about liquor drinkers in New Jersey (or perhaps TGI Fridays patrons) that they don’t notice when they get the cheap stuff instead of good stuff? Perhaps this is the answer to the price of beer? After all, we already know that wine tasting is bullshit anyway.